Senate committee calls for discontinuation of funding for failing COVIDSafe app
Australia’s COVIDSafe app, initially likened to a digital sunscreen by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, has come under fire from the Senate committee reviewing the federal government’s response to the pandemic.
“By not acknowledging flaws in the app or seeking to fix the app, the government has continued to oversee an app that is not fit for its intended purpose, cost millions of dollars and offered limited public value,” the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 said in its final report.
The entire committee, with the exception of one member of the Coalition, supported this point of view.
This discovery comes as a study by the committee, which ended in February, found that use of COVIDSafe in New South Wales between May and November 2020 detected only 17 close contacts. who had not yet been identified by conventional contact tracing methods.
As a percentage, the 17 close contacts detected by the COVIDSafe app represented 0.1% of all close contacts identified in the state during this period.
The committee added that the federal government was unwilling to provide an update on the number of additional contacts identified by the COVIDSafe app, opting instead to claim that states and territories are responsible for reporting case counts. identified.
In response to the ineffectiveness of the COVIDSafe app, the committee recommended that the federal government cease all future spending of public funds on the failing COVIDSafe app.
“Evidence over the past two years has consistently shown that the Morrison government was unprepared when the pandemic hit, reacted too slowly, ignored expert advice and failed to take responsibility when things went wrong. shot,” said committee chair and Labor senator Katy Gallagher.
The committee also called for the establishment of a royal commission to review Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic to inform preparedness for future waves and pandemics of COVID-19.
As of October 2021, A$9.2 million had been spent by the federal government to run the COVIDSafe app, which averaged out to A$200,000 per month. While the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) said the expenses of running the app have come down, they are still around AU$60,000 per month.